Steve King should go, yes – what about the rest?

Steve King has been racist for a very long time. Republicans have been vaguely denouncing him (and then endorsing him) for almost as long.

Ernst (R-IA) endorses King (R-IA) in 2016

Republican leadership in Congress is now moving to censure King in an as yet unspecified way. This is an entirely political decision, not a moral one. For how can it be legitimate outrage when King backs up his racist rhetoric with fairly standard Republican positions?

King’s racism by definition informs his views on issues that affect different races of people in different ways, primarily immigration and civil rights. But those same views are standard conservative fare.

On immigration, Steve King wants to build a border wall, reduce legal immigration, mandate E-verify, and end birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants. King’s own bill to restrict birthright citizenship to legal immigrants was cosponsored by 48 other House Republicans (all of them white men).

If King wants to reduce immigration because he doesn’t want Americans replaced by “somebody else’s babies” and Joe Wilson (R-SC) wants to do it because of jobs or the Rule of Law™ or something, the effect is the same – fewer immigrants and new citizens of mostly racial minorities.

On civil rights, Steve King supports mandatory voter ID, voter registration purges, and reduced early and absentee voting. Whether intentionally or not, these policies disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters, and the “problem” they purport to solve are effectively nonexistent.

As a committed white supremacist, Steve King necessarily supports these policies because they reduce the electoral power of people of color. Are the many Republican states who have actually enacted them any better because they’ve convinced themselves that they are protecting “the integrity of our elections”, which isn’t under threat in the first place?

On these issues and more, conservative ideology has been developed gradually over the last 60+ years on a steady diet of “welfare queens” and “anchor babies” and “family values” and “inner city” problems and “tough on crime” solutions. When an otherwise mainstream Republican who hews to this standard conservative rhetoric takes it one step further and talks explicitly about white nationalism, everyone reaches for their pearls, but no one reflects inward.

Condemning, censuring, and removing Steve King is good, yes! Condemning, censuring, and removing President Trump, who agrees with Steve King on everything for exactly the same reasons, would be better. Fundamentally reconsidering policies endorsed by white supremacists because of their white supremacist effects would be best. I’m not holding my breath.

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